Markets, Productivity, and Happiness in a Historical Perspective

The difficult measuring and rewarding economic performance: 'Corpus analysis' applied to Melchiorre Gioia’s On merit and rewards (1818-19).

Dal Degan Francesca, University of Pisa
Guidi Marco Enrico Luigi, University of Pisa

“Hundreds works talk about crimes and punishment, just few of merit and rewards ”: this is the opening of the volume On merit and rewards written by Melchiorre Gioia and published in its first edition in 1818-19. During the Enlightenment the debate about virtue, merit and rewards ignited powerfully and many major authors, among which Rosseau, Montesquieu, Diderot, Condorcet and Bentham, wrote on this topic. In Italy, Cesare Beccaria and Gacinto Dragonetti dedicated their works to the question of punishing crimes and rewarding virtues and, along this perspective, Gioia wrote his book opening his reasoning to the consideration of the economic field and applying the statistical method to the study of this aspect of social and economic life. Thus, this book can be considered one of the earliest attempts to investigate the economic system - in a dynamic relationship with other realms of human experience - through the classificatory and statistical method. The aim of the work is to analyse the corpus of the text from a linguistic and lexical point of view, highlighting how the economist's vocabulary changes and gains a modern focus along with the use of specialised tools.


Keywords: Melchiorre Gioia, economic virtues, rewards, Statistics

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